To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee


JEJU, Korea (March 19) - Tomohiro Matsunaga
(right photo) and Kazuhiko Ikematsu secured berths for Japan in this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing as the freestyle portion of the Asian Championships came to a close. Matsunaga took the gold medal at 55 kg with a win over Korean veteran Yang Jae-Hoon to punch his ticket to the Olympics while Ikematsu qualified for the Beijing Games at 66 kg with a bronze medal performance and a sprinkling of good luck.

Ikematsu, a Japanese Olympic team member in 2004, dropped his second round match to Yang Chung-Song of DPR Korea, who eventually won at 66 kg. The DPRK, however, did not enter last year’s world meet and were disqualified from contention for an Olympic berth at the continental championships.

Further, the runner-up from Mongolia (Purevjav Unurbat) and the other bronze medal winner (Shushil Kumar of India) already represented Olympic qualifiers, so Ikematsu’s third place was enough to send the once-retired Japanese veteran to his second Olympics.

At 84 kg, Yutaka Suzuki opened with a win, but lost in the semifinals to Mongolia’s Ganzorig Chagnaadorj and was forced to settle for fifth place with a loss to Abdul Ammaev of Uzbekistan in the bronze medal match. In the gold medal match, China’s Wang Ying prevailed over Ganzorig for the ticket to Beijing. Unlike previous Olympics in which the entries of the host nation received automatic berths, Chinese wrestlers have to qualify for the Beijing Games through the qualification process.

At 120 kg, Senshu University ace Nobuyoshi Arakida fell in his opening round match to Chuluunbat Jargalsaikhan of Mongolia and did not advance to the consolation bracket. In the gold medal final, defending champion Fardin Masoumi Valadi of Iran repeated with a win over Kazakhstan’s Marid Mutalimov to earn a place in this summer’s Olympics.

In the team race, Japan won its first Asia freestyle championship, ahead of second-place Iran.

Results of bouts involving Japanese wrestlers:

Men’s freestyle

55 kg - MATSUNAGA, Tomohiro (1st, 12 entries)

R1 - df. Asset Serikbaev (KAZ), 2-0 (4-3, 4-0)
 In a seesaw first period, Matsunaga hits the winning tackle in the final 20 seconds. A double-leg for three points in the second seals the win for Matsunaga over last year’s Asia silver medalist.

R2 - df. Kim Sun-Nam (PRK), 2-1 (0-5, 4-1, 4-1)
 Matsunaga is dropped in the first period, but avoids being pinned. He comes from behind in the second with a double-leg to nearfall. In a nail-biting final 30 seconds, Matsunaga takes the lead with a fireman’s carry and then catches his opponent on his back when Kim attempts front headlock and spin-under.

SF - df. Taghi Dadashi (IRI) by fall, 2P=2:00 (1x-1=last point, 3-0)
 Matsunaga gets the last point with a go-behind in the first period, and catches the former Asia junior champion on his back with a takedown counter at the end of the second.

F1 - df. Yang Jae-Hoon (KOR), 2-1 (0-1, 5-4, 2-0=2:12)
 Matsunaga’s style of counter wrestling gives officiating crew fits as second period turns are scored 2-2, 2-2 after video review. After a scoreless third period, Matsunaga counters from the clinch with Yang initially being awarded two points. A video review, however, showed that Matsunaga’s counter was the decisive action.

66 kg - IKEMATSU, Kazuhiko (3rd, 16 entries)

R1 - df. Saeed Dadashpour (IRI), 2-0 (2-0, 3-1)
 Ikematsu cranks over with an arm bar for two points at the end of the first period and drops the junior world bronze medalist with a three-point double leg in the final moments of the second.

R2 - lost to Yang Chang-Song (PRK), 1-2 (1-1x=last point, 2-0, 0-1=2:06)
 Ikematsu misfires late with an arm control counter in the first period and lets Yang get behind for decisive last point. The former world bronze medalist rebounded to take the second period, but lost in the clinch in the third.

r1 - df. Ignati Androsov (TJK) by fall, 2P=0:35 (1-1x=last point, 3-0)
 After dropping the first period to 19-year-old Androsov, Ikematsu came back with a double-leg takedown to fall.

F3 - df. Mazen Adan Kadmani (SYR), 2-0 (4-0, 3-0)
 Ikematsu scores with a big double-leg for three points in the first period, then wraps up the bronze medal with a go-behind and cross-ankle turn.

 Ikematsu qualified for the Beijing Olympics without the need for a third-place wrestle-off with Kazakhstan’s Leonid Spiridonov when the 2006 Asia champion lost in the other bronze medal match.

84 kg - SUZUKI, Yutaka (5th, 10 entries)

R1 - bye

R2 - df. Hussain Ahmad Gowdooei (QAT) by fall, 1P=0:39 (4-0)
 Suzuki moves from arm control to a single-leg takedown and then stacks an ankle turn for the fall.

R3 - lost to Ganzorig Changnaadorj (MGL), 0-2 (0-3, 1-1x=last point)
 Suzuki is dropped to his back in the first period by the 2006 Asia champion and gives up a late takedown in the second.

F3 - lost to Abdul Ammaev (UZB), 0-2 (1-3, 1-2)
 Suzuki scores a pair of points out of bounds, but cannot stop the leg attacks of the junior world champion.

120 kg - ARAKIDA, Nobuyoshi (did not place, 8 entries)

R1 - lost to Chuluunbat Jargalsaikhan (MGL), 0-2 (2-3, 0-6=1:02)
 Arakida has the last-point advantage late in the first period, but gives up a duck-under point in the final 10 seconds. The Japanese collegiate champion is taken down to his back in the second and the period comes to end with two more takedowns.